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“I knew I should pay attention because maybe one day in my life I would use what I learned, but I always thought it would be on a stranger. I never thought it would be on my dad!”

Mark was watching television in his basement last December when his mother called him to hurry upstairs to help his 46-year-old father Joe, who was choking. At first, Mark thought his mother was joking. It wasn’t until a second, more urgent cry from his mother, that Mark realized this was no joke. He rushed upstairs to find his father standing in the kitchen, his face red and his hands at his throat. No sound was coming from his mouth. He couldn’t breathe.

“I was shocked,” Mark recalls. “I thought, ‘This can’t be happening!'”

Despite his shock, Mark sprung into action, performing the Heimlich Manoeuvre, which he had learned in school. A piece of his father’s chicken dinner shot across the room.

“He saved his father’s life,” says Russell, the physical education teacher who taught Mark CPR at Laurenhill Academy in Montreal. “He didn’t think much about it. He acted quickly and when it was over, it was over.”

This is the first rescue performed by one of Russell’s students, but he knows it will not be the last.

“As a physical educator, of all the subjects in all the 24 years that I’ve taught, I find CPR is the best thing I’ve ever taught my students. They’re learning something they need and want to learn.”

The ACT High School CPR Program is made possible at Laurenhill Academy thanks to the generous provincial-level support of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Quebec Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports, and Sun Life Financial, as well as community-level partners. This support enables the donation of mannequins, teacher training and curriculum resources for high schools.

The Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation is an award-winning, national charitable organization dedicated to establishing CPR in high schools across Canada. ACT raises funds to donate mannequins, teacher training, manuals and other materials to schools, and guides schools in program set-up and long-term sustainability. Teachers teach CPR to their students as a regular part of the curriculum. Over 900,000 youth have been trained in CPR through this lifesaving program to date.

Core partners supporting the program in Quebec and throughout Canada are companies in the research-based pharmaceutical industry: AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, Pfizer Canada and sanofi-aventis. They provide ACT’s sustaining funding and are committed to the Foundation’s national goal of promoting health and empowering Canadians to save lives.